Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What Are You Giving Up for Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent. Lent is popularly known as a time to give up something. It’s popular to give up candy or red meat for Lent.

It’s never popular to give up motorized transport. This week’s Sojo-mail has two significant articles. “Biking as a Lenten Practice” asserts the idea of giving up something that will help an individual focus on oil, energy and the war in Iraq. “Demotorizing My Soul” is less about Lent and more about linking the joys of cycling with the spiritual.

In the latter Will Braun is right on, nailing me from the opening line – “We’re not meant to go that fast. It’s just too hard on the spirit.”

But it’s the closing that landed like a bombshell and put words and explanation to what The MinusCar Project is about.
"The moral of the story is adventure. It's not that I became a novice practitioner of mobility ethics, but that the whole notion of spirited lifestyle change took the form of adventure. I was eager to embark not only on the next overly-ambitious trip but on other lifestyle experiments.

Such as the changes yet to come. The further ruralization of my life. The reduction of stuff. The reduction of computer-dependence. Closer contact with the poor. And a few others I'm too shy to mention. I'm not sure how or when these transformations are going to happen, but I look forward to the ride."
Riding a bike isn’t about fixing the war in Iraq. It can’t be about fixing Global Warming. Riding a bike and The MinusCar Project is about fixing me. Anybody who changes their behavior because of something they read or see here is icing on the cake. The most important change is the change that happens to me.

The MinusCar Project leads me to ask questions; what is enough? Is 169 gallons of water per day enough for a household? Is the 1kW of electricity that will light all the bulbs inside my home better used in Africa where it will light all the bulbs in 70 homes?

The MinusCar Project takes me on adventures. Most recently the fighting of a house bill; and future ones too, like the summer plan to build a wind turbine and too share the experience with friends.

So go ahead. Give something up for Lent. Give up your motorized transport – maybe for just one day. Sit on a bike seat or sit on a bus, or even walk somewhere you'd normally drive (thanks for the encouragement MH!). And while you're not all consumed by the taillights of the car in front of you consider the question – what is enough?

PS – I was thinking about The MinusComputer-Dependence Project, but then I realized I wouldn’t be able to blog about it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying the purpose of The Minus Car project. Reminds me of the variation on a common saying:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change ... the
courage to change the one I can ... and the wisdom to know it's Me."

Anonymous said...

I really liked this post. Simple as that.